Spotlight • Greg Morton, Bassoon Wizard
The first in our new series of musician, staff and board spotlights focuses on one of our favorite low double reed people, WCFSO Principal Bassoonist Greg Morton. Greg lives in Cedar Rapids and also plays with Orchestra Iowa, and has performed with the Des Moines and Quad City Orchestras, the Des Moines Metro Opera, and the Joffrey Ballet Orchestra. He’s currently on the faculties of Coe, Wartburg, and Hawkeye Community Colleges, teaching bassoon, saxophone, and oboe, and has a private studio of 30 students. That’s a ton of reed students!
• By eighth grade I knew my career would have something to do with music. I wasn’t certain what form that would take until I was a senior, graduating from college with a degree in Education, and discovered that I didn’t like teaching high school! I went on to study and teach in Oregon, North Texas, Louisiana and Chicago and ended up in Iowa to work on my Doctorate, and somehow never left. I had inspiring teachers along the way, but there was no single teacher who sparked that desire to make a life in music. I just knew, early on, that music would be a vocation.
• I made the right decision to play the bassoon, for all the wrong reasons! I started out playing saxophone, but thought I would give the bassoon a try for fun. I was awful – I couldn’t play my way out of a wet paper bag open at both ends. When I learned that sax majors also had to take two years of clarinet, I opted to major in bassoon in an attempt to avoid that requirement. I ended up taking just about that much clarinet anyway over the years, but I love playing the bassoon and have never been sorry I chose it.
• There is something wonderful about being onstage with a group of musicians playing. There is a camaraderie and common purpose that brings you closer, even if you do not know every musician personally. There have been performances so intense that the hair on your arm rises. Performing is simply so different than anything else.
• The WCFSO is so inviting. WCFSO staff makes the experience so gratifying, as do my fellow musicians. It is very warm and welcoming here. It is a pleasure to work with people who care about the symphony and are invested in the organization. Their work is not just a job; it is their personal orchestra.
• I think chamber music can be an opportunity for growth and a great way to bring music to people. We have very interesting programming for the WCFSO, but chamber music can engage the musicians on stage in a way which is personal and which allows the music to touch the audience in new and different ways.
• I enjoy teaching and the interaction with my students, who range in age from 6th grade to their 60’s. All of them are interesting individuals, and each brings uniqueness to my studio and my life. I feel that I am not just teaching my students how to play an instrument. For some of my younger students, my lessons with them are an opportunity to have one on one interaction with an adult (other than their parents) whose focus is solely on them.
• My passions other than music are reading, and composing and arranging. I would like to pursue stained glass making again, when I have time!
Based on his work and achievements we assume Greg hasn’t had time for stained glass in a while. He holds degrees from the University of North Texas and the University of Iowa and earned a Performance Certificate at Northwestern University. He previously served on the faculty at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, the faculty of Lutheran Summer Music and Iowa All-State, and has participated in the Great Music West Festival. Of his original compositions and over 40 arrangements, several have been recorded for a series of - you guessed it - WIZARDS! albums. We love Greg!